The battle of the sexes: women in a world dominated by male dwarfs

Based on the Henrik Ibsen play, Mabou Mine’s version of «A Doll House,» as directed by Lee Breuer, opens at the Herod Atticus Theater tonight. The performances, which run to Thursday, are part of this year’s Athens Festival. Adapted by Breuer and Maude Mitchell, the production is the fifth in a series of award-winning, «deconstructed» works stemming from the classical repertoire. Manifesto In keeping with Mabou Mine’s takes on Samuel Beckett’s «The Lost Ones» as well as «The Gospel at Colonus,» «King Lear» and «Peter and Wendy,» «Doll’s House» is a political manifesto without any direct political references. In the play, Breuer and Mitchell go in search of Ibsen’s notion of patriarchy. The male actors interpreting the roles of Torvald Helmer, Dr Rank and Nils Krogstad are no taller than one meter and 30 centimeters tall. Nora Helmer and Christine Linde are tall women, while Helene, the maid, is nearly two meters tall. «We are not castigating the ruling class, we are castigating patriarchy. Nora Helmer lives in a world of dwarfs, where everything is adapted to their scale. In order to kiss her husband, she has to bend down. Dwarfs give orders to the women and the women obey, just like parents to obey the children they have spoiled. »The power of men is an illusion. Of course, they also suffer, because the system offers them only one role to play – that of the master. Being the master is a huge weight on men,» noted Breuer in an interview with Kathimerini’s Elias Maglinis in May. While the American director believes that today’s women have gained power, they feel isolated. Why is this? Because, says Breuer, men prefer obedient women. At the Herod Atticus Theater, the production gradually develops into what «A Doll House» has metamorphosized into these days: an imaginary feminist hymn. In the hands of the Mabou Mines Company, the play turns the bourgeois tragedy into a comedy with deep social commentary. Victorian elements The production’s Victorian elements run throughout the play, including costumes and hairstyles. Assembled by Eve Beglarian, the play’s music is a collage of piano works by Edvard Grieg, which accompany the scenes in the manner of a silent film. The cast includes Maude Mitchell (Nora Helmer), Mark Povinelli (Torvald Helmer), Kristopher Medina (Nils Krogstad), Janet Girardeau (Christine Linde), Ricardo Gil (Dr Rank) and Margaret Lancaster (Helene). The production’s stage sets were conceived by Narelle Sissons, with costumes by Meganne George, lighting by Mary Louise Geiger, sound by Edward Cosla and choreography by Eamonn Farrell and Eric Liberman. For ticket information see What’s On.